Covid, Oncology Chiefs on Telemedicine for patients: only 1 ward out of 10 had access to digital platforms

Oncology and Telemedicine: “As many as 90% of Italian medical oncology departments did not have access to telemedicine platforms for remote patient care during the second phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. This technological gap was even more marked in Southern Italy, where the percentage of those who used it was only 5%”

This is the result of a survey conducted by the Italian College of Chief Hospital Medical Oncologists (CIPOMO) on 138 Department Directors of Medical Oncology, which, as reported in the note, allowed “to outline the ways in which Italian oncologists have dealt with the second wave of Covid-19”.

Telemedicine and oncology departments: two worlds still far apart

Telemedicine,” said Livio Blasi, Past President of CIPOMO and Director of the Oncology Unit at ARNAS Civico in Palermo, “promised to be the great ally of specialists in the management of cancer patients during the most difficult phases of the pandemic, but reality has shown that the technology is not yet adequate for concrete application in clinical practice.

It was therefore not possible to replace face-to-face visits with remote visits, but despite this, thanks to better organisation of clinical activities, we were able to guarantee continuity of care and protection for patients.

To reinforce the organisation of medical oncology departments, around 500 million euros have been allocated in the “Sostegni bis” decree to speed up interventions, examinations, and screenings that were not carried out during the most difficult months of the pandemic, as described by Health Minister Roberto Speranza in his letter to the 25th CIPOMO Congress.

In addition, the communiqué states, “the need for reform and technological innovation in oncology highlighted by the current health situation can now be turned into an opportunity, thanks to the recent approval of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) by the Government”.

Claudio Zamagni, Director of Medical Oncology, Addarii IRCCS Sant’Orsola in Bologna and President of the XXV CIPOMO Congress, says: “The smart technology that can facilitate our work as physicians is already potentially available, but we must now make it a reality in all hospitals, thanks also to the financial resources made available by the PNRR.

We strongly believe that, with the central coordination of the Government and the willingness of local authorities to cooperate, we will be able to overcome the current organisational and cultural obstacles to achieve an effective and adequate technological transformation of our country’s oncologies”.

Interoperability of information systems and simplification are “CIPOMO’s two key words for defining the actions to be taken in order to meet the challenges of the PNRR: in order to make the interoperability of information systems a reality, digital transformation will have to make patients’ clinical data immediately usable, overcoming the limits of privacy that are often instrumental.

As the Vice-President of the Italian Data Protection Authority, Ginevra Cerrina Ferroni, made clear at the last CIPOMO Congress, the issue of privacy will not be an obstacle, but will facilitate interaction between different systems, making it possible to cooperate and exchange data reliably and synergistically, offering new services and functions to the benefit of patients, and making the Electronic Health Record tool finally usable.

In order to achieve real simplification of the processes, it is necessary to make the technologies accessible, overcoming the difficulties often linked to organisational problems or generation gaps. It is therefore essential both to make user-friendly software and IT tools available to professionals and to provide specific training actions for healthcare personnel.

With Simplification, technology can be Smart”.

Our main expectation,” concludes Dr Zamagni, “is to be able to take advantage of the PNRR’s resources to reduce the time dedicated to managing medical records and bureaucracy.

This would allow us to devote more space during visits to listening to and treating our patients in such important and delicate pathologies as oncology”.

Oncology Chiefs Congress, not only Telemedicine: new board elected

On the sidelines of the XXVth CIPOMO Congress, the new Board of Directors was elected with the appointment of Luigi Cavanna, Director of the Department of Oncology-Hematology and Director of the Unit of Medical Oncology, Piacenza Local Health Unit, as President, and Luisa Fioretto, Director of the Department of Oncology, AUSL Toscana Centro SOC Medical Oncology – Florence, as Vice President.

In addition to the President and Vice President, Monica Giordano, Director of Medical Oncology and Functional Oncology Department, Sant’Anna Hospital, Como, Italy, and Bruno Daniele, Director of Medical Oncology Unit, Ospedale del Mare, ASL NA1, Naples, Italy, have just been appointed as Secretary.

The new Board members are: Carlo Aschele, Director S.C. Medical Oncology Hospital Sant’Andrea, La Spezia Giuseppe Aprile, Director Department of Clinical Oncology, Director SOC Oncology Hospital San Bortolo, Azienda ULSS8 Berica Distretto Est, Sandro Barni, Chief Emeritus of Oncology ASST BGOVEST Hospital Treviglio (BG) Cinzia Ortega, Director S. O.C. Medical Oncology – ASL CN 2 – Hospitals of Alba and Bra Rosa Rita Silva, Director of the Department of Medical Specialties AV2 ASUR Marche, Director SC Medical Oncology AV2 Fabriano. Elected as Auditors: Vincenzo Montesarchio, Director UOC Oncology, Medical AORN dei Colli Hospitals Monaldi, Cotugno – CTO, Naples Graziella Pinotti, former Director S.C. Medical Oncology and Corporate Oncology Department ASST Settelaghi Ospedale di Circolo e Fondazione Macchi, Varese. CIPOMO’s Past President is Livio Blasi, Director UOC Medical Oncology, ARNAS Ospedale Civico, Palermo and President Emeritus is Alberto Scanni, Chief Emeritus of Medical Oncology Az. Ospedaliera Fatebenefratelli-Oftalmico, Milan.

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